A NANNY who stole more than £6,000 from an heiress has avoided an immediate jail sentence.
Beatrice Kate Dalton plundered the bank account of Lady Louisa Collings, heiress to the sprawling Goodwood estate, in west Sussex.
The £7-an-hour nanny insisted she had only ever taken cash which she was already owed.
Lady Louisa, daughter of the 10th Duke of Richmond, employed Dalton to look after her four children at her country home in Prestigne, mid Wales.
Dalton was treated as one of the family and given a second-hand Peugeot car in gratitude for her loyal service, Merthyr Crown Court heard.
But the aristocratic couple called in the police after discovering more than £12,000 missing from their private accounts.
Dalton, of Penarth, admitted to “hating being poor” and felt embarrassed by the gift – so she stopped claiming her weekly wage in a bid to pay for it herself.
When she found she could not live without an income she claimed she began helping herself to cash she calculated was “owed” to her.
Dalton, 25, had faced six separate charges for fraud, amounting to more than £12,000, covering a period between April 2009 and 2010. She was cleared of five counts. The single charge of which she was found guilty, which was the most serious, was that of using a Barclaycard to dishonestly withdraw £6,600.
Yesterday Judge Richard Twomlow said Dalton had abused the trust of the Collings family in “a cynical and disgraceful way”.
He said the offence was so serious that a jail term was justified – but opted to suspend her sentence. “While the Collings family had no financial problems, their day to day financial management was not particularly organised,” he added. “They regarded you not as employer but more as a friend and they rewarded you by buying a car.””
Judge Twomlow also said Dalton, who pleaded her innocence throughout her trial last month, had showed a “callous disregard for the truth”. He imposed a 12 month custodial sentence, suspended for a year.
Dalton will also have to pay £4,800 compensation and £3,500 in costs as well as undertaking 250 hours of unpaid work.